SC junks Cojuangco plea with finality
Says gov't owns UCPB shares
MANILA - The Supreme Court, in its en banc session on Tuesday, denied with finality businessman Danding Cojuangco's claims over shares he held in the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB).
The high court affirmed its November 27, 2012 decision which ruled that the said shares belong to the state since it was bought using coconut levy funds.
Voting 14-0, the high court junked Cojuangco's motion for reconsideration (MR) and ordered that an entry of judgment be issued to close the case.
In junking Cojuangco's MR, the SC said the arguments raised in the motion are a mere reiteration of arguments already passed upon in the Nov. 2012 decision.
Only Associate Justice Arturo Brion was unable to vote; he is on sick leave.
No further pleadings shall be entertained.
NOVEMBER 27 RULING
In a decision penned by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, Jr., dated Nov. 27, the high court ruled that the subject shares, paid by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) out of the Coconut Consumers Stabilization Fund (CCSF), transferred to Cojuangco, are "conclusively owned by the Republic of the Philippines to be used only for the benefit of all coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry, and ordered reconveyed to the government."
Out of the 72.2% UCPB (formerly First United Bank) shares of stocks purchased by the PCA through the coconut levy funds, 10%, or a total of 7.22% fully paid shares amounting to P10.88 million, was transferred to Cojuangco in 1975 as compensation. This was paid with the use of coconut levy funds.
"In effect, Cojuangco received the aforementioned asset as a result of the PCA-Cojuangco Agreement, and exclusively benefited himself by owning property using solely public funds.
"We, therefore, affirm, on this ground, the decision of the Sandiganbayan nullifying the shares of stock transfer to Cojuangco. Accordingly, the UCPB shares of stock representing the 7.22% fully paid shares subject of the instant petition, with all dividends declared, paid or issued thereon... shall be reconveyed to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, which as we previously clarified, shall 'be used only for the benefit of all coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry,'" the decision read.
The high court said that UCPB shares of stocks owned by the "alleged fronts, nominees and dummies" of Cojuangco which form part of the 72.2% shares of UCPB, also belong to the state.
In 2003, the Sandiganbayan ruled that coconut levy funds are special public funds.